CineLab • Thematic Cycle

Problematising reality – encounters between art and philosophy

Philip Cartelli, Samir Gandesha


Borom sarret (1963, 20 min.) by Ousmane Sembène

Philip Cartelli, Samir Gandesha

Artworks, especially those that comprise documentary material, can offer a particularl challenge to our sense of reality. While the indexical link to what they address grants images and sounds a specific credibility, the artist’s aesthetic, thematic and political choices and self-reflexive stance may generate a critical assessment of the very constitution of reality. At such point, art meets philosophy. To reflect on the relationship between the factual world and its subjective understanding, questioning hegemonic claims to objectivity and problematising the inherent contradictions of society are inherently philosophical issues.

The second edition of Problematising reality – Encounters between art and philosophy is a partnership between CAM / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, IFILNOVA (CineLab) / FCSH / UNL and Maumaus / Lumiar Cité. This is a series of six discussion sessions and four seminars taking place at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, focusing on the moment when art and philosophy establish productive dialogues, proposing diverse approaches to contemporary thought.

The third discussion session takes place in January and brings together the artist and researcher Philip Cartelli and the researcher Samir Gandesha, in a reflection prompted by the viewing of Borom sarret (1963), by Ousmane Sembène, considered the father of African cinema. The film portrays a day in the life of a cart driver in Dakar (Senegal), whose journey highlights the city’s separation between poor spaces and gated communities. In Samir Gandesha’s words, it is a formal minimalism with several layers of complexity that reveal the structural violence, established and consolidated through colonial class and gender relations, which persist in the post-independence period.

Philip Cartelli (USA) is a moving-image artist and researcher whose film and video work has been presented at festivals and other events, including Locarno Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Visions du Réel, Torino Film Festival, FIDMarseille and Film at Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real. He holds a dual-PhD from Harvard University (where he was a member of the Sensory Ethnography Lab) and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris) and was a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at Wagner College in New York City.

Samir Gandesha (Canada) is Professor of Modern European Thought and Culture and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Besides being author of numerous refereed articles in top-tier journals, chapters in edited volumes, and encyclopedia entries, he is the editor of ‘Spectres of Fascism: Historical, Theoretical and International Perspectives’ (Pluto Press, 2020), ‘Crossing Borders: Essays in Honour of Ian H. Angus, Beyond Phenomenology and Critique’ (Arbeiter Ring, 2020, with Peyman Vahabzadeh), ‘Aesthetic Marx’ (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017, with Johan F. Hartle), ‘Spell of Capital: Reification and Spectacle’ (Amsterdam University Press, 2017, with Johan F. Hartle), ‘Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations’ (Stanford University Press, 2012, with Lars Rensmann), among others.

Session duration: 120 min. | +12 | Entry is free and limited to the number of seats available.
Film spoken in French and subtitled in English and Portuguese; the discussion will be in English, with simultaneous translation to Portuguese.

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Partnership: CAM / FCG, IFILNOVA (CineLab) / FCSH / UNL, Maumaus / Lumiar Cité
Support: Ministério da Cultura / Direção-Geral das Artes, FCT — Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

Event supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e para a Tecnologia) of the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science under the project UIDB/00183/2020.